Tutu extols barbecues as a symbol of unity

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The Independent Online

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has become patron of South Africa's national barbecue day, declaring that the shared love of sizzling sausages over an open flame was a strong unifying force between blacks and whites in a still divided country.

The title "Patron of National Braai Day" – using the Afrikaans word for barbecue by which all South Africans refer to barbecues – added to the numerous honours bestowed upon the man regarded as South Africa's moral conscience.

Archbishop Tutu – who greeted the barbecuers after an audience with surfers – admitted he had lost count of the organisations he backed. "Sometimes I am surprised when people say, 'You are our patron'," he chuckled.

But he clearly relished his latest role as he donned a "National Braai Day" apron and smacked his lips in delight after tucking into his favorite South African sausage, boerewors - a thick spiral of coarsely minced beef and spices.

"This is something that can unite us," he beamed as he distributed sausages to the crowd on the terrace outside his modest office. "It is so proudly South African, so uniquely South African."

Organisers say the braai is an inherent part of the national culture and enjoyed by all South Africans, be they white, black or of mixed race.

During South Africa's long summers, the smoky smell of barbecued meat and fish wafts through parks, lakes and gardens across South Africa.

Jan Scannell, the main organiser, said the idea was not to have a mass braai, but rather millions of small ones as friends and family gathered to celebrate.

Archbishop Tutu agreed. "We have 11 different official languages but only one word for the wonderful institution of braai: in Xhosa, English, Afrikaans, whatever. There are so many things that are pulling us apart," he added.